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Handwashing - why it's important
A number of infectious diseases can be spread from one person to another by contaminated hands, particularly gastrointestinal infections, influenza and hepatitis A. Washing your hands properly can help prevent the spread of the organisms that cause these diseases. Some forms of gastroenteritis can cause serious complications, especially for young children, the elderly, or those with a weakened immune system. Drying your hands properly is as important as washing them.
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When to wash your hands
You should wash your hands thoroughly: • • • • • • • • • Before preparing food Before eating Between handling raw and cooked or ready-to-eat food After going to the toilet or changing nappies After smoking After using a tissue or handkerchief After handling rubbish or working in the garden After handling animals After attending to sick children or other family members.
How to wash your hands properly
To wash hands properly: • • • • • • • • • • Wet your hands with warm water. Apply one dose of liquid soap and lather (wash) well for 15–20 seconds (or longer if the dirt is ingrained). Rub hands together rapidly across all surfaces of your hands and wrists to help remove dirt and germs. Don’t forget the backs of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails. If possible, remove rings and watches before you wash your hands, or ensure you move the rings to wash under them, as microorganisms can exist under them. Rinse well under running water and make sure all traces of soap are removed, as residues may cause irritation. Pat your hands dry using paper towels (or single-use cloth towels). Make sure your hands are thoroughly dry. Dry under any rings you wear, as they can be a source of future contamination if they remain moist....
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